No one suspected potential evil lurked behind the Bearcat clones that began mysteriously appearing across the University of Cincinnati campus in early October 2002. Clever names like "Elizabeth Bearcat Browning" and "Lady Libearty" may have lulled people into a false sense of obscurity, but the university magazine staff could see the dark possibilities that lay beyond the 4-foot-tall, fiberglass bobble-head mascots and Elvis impersonators.
Sure, cleverly clothed creations could be charming, possibly endearing, but where would university departments and supporters stop in playing Dr. Frankenstein? Our investigative reporting revealed fake president Stegers lying in wait and pseudo doctors scrubbing up to head into operating rooms. Someone had to halt the Alumni Association's Mascot Mania charade, and we knew just whom to call.
Clark Cat, the magazine's "cub" reporter, dove into a phone booth to reveal the Superbear hiding beneath the mild-mannered glasses and fedora. Able to leap Crosley Tower in a single bound, this bearcat would rescue campus and raise money for the Presidential Scholarship, all faster than a speeding student late for class.
In the end, he rounded up 54 fiberglass impostors, including the "Cat and Gown," dressed for graduation, and a tuxedo-clad "Li-bear-ace Cat," posed on a piano. Fortunately, all were auctioned off at the Presidential Ball before any damage was done, and Clark carefully monitored their behavior the following weekend during a special homecoming appearance.
In the end, ball bids and homecoming votes resulted in a popularity contest with awards presented at halftime. The white-haired "Dr. Steg-RRR," created by the Student Alumni Association, won the Best of Breed Award, showing more superhero potential than Clark in raising $2,000 single paw-ed-ly.
Other awards went to the "Cat-tue of Li-bear-ty," created by Administrative and Business Services and voted on by faculty and staff; the "Bandsman Binturong," created by the Bearcat Band and voted on by homecoming attendees; and "You See UC Sports," created by UC Athletics and selected by homecoming sponsors Fifth Third Bank and Liberty Mutual.
Not the least bit disappointed with the results, Clark bid us farewell to take up residence with his new owner, alumni association officer Phillip Lanham. In his final words, our cub reporter reminded us that awards were less important than the scholarships raised and the festive atmosphere created on campus. He gave us paws to think.